Criminal charges are scary and intimidating. They carry jail time, hefty fines, and they threaten your job and reputation. But not every charge results in the worst-case scenario. An arrest on criminal charges is not a guilty verdict. You have the right to fight the charges. A criminal lawyer may discover one or more grounds for petitioning the court for a dismissal. There are a number of possible defenses that could prove your innocence. The following are grounds that you may have for asking the court to dismiss your criminal charges…
Lack of Probable Cause to Arrest
Probable cause means that a reasonable person would believe that a crime was in the process of being committed, had been committed, or was going to be committed. Probable cause is enough for a search or arrest warrant. Generally, a police officer has probable cause to arrest you if they have a reasonable belief that you were involved in a crime. Officers may establish probable cause in a variety of ways including observations, statements made by victims or witnesses, expertise or personal knowledge, and circumstantial evidence indicating that a crime was likely committed. For example, if a law enforcer believes that you are drunk and stops you. If they do not have probable cause for a stop or an arrest, the court could dismiss the criminal case. The facts and circumstances must indicate to a reasonable officer in a similar situation that the person was involved in criminal activity.
Improper Chain of Custody
The chain of custody is the most critical process of evidence documentation. It is a must to assure the court of law that the evidence is authentic — that it is the same evidence seized at the crime scene. It was, at all times, in the custody of a person designated to handle it and for which it was never unaccounted. Law enforcement must maintain a strict chain of custody evidence. For example, there is a process for maintaining blood samples after a violent crime and there is a process for maintaining evidence in a rape case. When the chain of evidence is broken, the court can throw out the evidence. Your case could also be dismissed.
An Unreasonable Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of all people to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The purpose of these constitutional rights is to prevent the police from harassing people who have not done anything wrong. These rights mean that the police cannot search your person, your home, your vehicle, or your things unless one of the following is true: (1) The police have a search warrant, or (2) the police have a valid exception to the warrant requirement. If the police officer conducts an illegal search, any evidence obtained from the search may be inadmissible in court. Never give your consent to search your home, vehicle, or person.
Civil Rights Violation
Miranda’s warnings are only necessary when a suspect is in custody and about to be interrogated. The name of the Miranda doctrine comes from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Talking to the police can make it more difficult to have your criminal charges dismissed. Exercise your right to remain silent and to call legal counsel. If the police violate your right to counsel or right to remain silent, that is a violation of your civil rights.
The Burden of Proof
The prosecution in a criminal case bears the burden of proving to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements necessary to establish the guilt of the defendant. If there does not appear to be sufficient evidence to prove a case, your attorney may file a motion to dismiss. The judge decides whether to dismiss the case.
What to Do If You Are Arrested
Always be respectful, never resist arrest, contact a lawyer as soon as possible, and remember that you have the right to remain silent. If other people were present during the alleged assault, their testimony could prove your innocence. Contact them immediately and ask them to provide a written statement of what they saw or heard. Phone records can show whom you were communicating with, at what time, and for how long. If police officers are arresting you, they are already convinced that you committed a crime. Nothing you say is going to change their minds. Instead, remain calm and quiet. An arraignment is a formal reading of a criminal charging document in the presence of the defendant, to inform them of the charges against them. In response to an arraignment, in some jurisdictions, the accused is expected to enter a plea, it is best to plead not guilty and ask for bail. Do not offer any explanation for the criminal charges until you talk to your lawyer. Always be honest with your lawyer. They cannot defend you to the best of their ability if they do not have all the facts.
Your arrest is the beginning of a legal process that takes time to resolve. Your attorney knows that you are under a lot of stress, but they will do all they can to make the process easier for you and to ensure that it does not drag on. Building a defense strategy to prove your innocence can take time, and you should trust your legal team in this process. A detail that you might not find important could be the detail that gives your attorney the grounds to find a motion to dismiss your case. If you are released on bail, do not contact any parties involved in the case. Do not talk to your family or friends about the case. They could then be called as a witness to a trial if there is one. Allow your lawyer to do his job by inventing your arrest circumstances to identify ways to get your criminal case dismissed.
A case might not go away after a judge or prosecutor dismisses the charges. If charges are dismissed without prejudice, prosecutors can refile the charges if the police uncover new evidence. As a result, you should keep in contact with your criminal defense lawyer, so you have representation if the case resurfaces.
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About Grubbs & Landry
At Grubbs & Landry, PLLC, we are dedicated to personal and friendly service. We manage our practice in an ethical, cost-effective manner to best help our clients resolve their legal issues with the least expense possible. We pride ourselves in advocating for our client in divorce, child custody, and child support matters as well as other family law matters. We are active in prosecuting personal injury cases-recovering for the injuries our clients sustain due to the negligence of others. Additionally, we help our clients prepare for the future through the preparation of Wills, Power of Attorney and Living Will.